Birth, Death and one less Lemon Brownie

lemon brownies for a family celebrationMy youngest turned eighteen this week and my grandbaby turned one month old. Time for a family celebration!

My youngest is a low-key kind of kid, so we settled on doing a family luncheon for his birthday. All told that should have been easy—right? No wild party or loud music to disturb the neighbors. The family knows what the house looks like, so I don’t have to clean it within an inch of its life. Make some food, bake something sweet and we should be good to go, right?

I wish.

But no.

First up, when are we going to do this thing? #2 son just moved out for grad school just a week before. What day can he get back to celebrate with us? All right, got the date, check.

What time and how long? Gotta check on the son with the new grandbaby and find out what his schedule looks like.  Ok, got that worked out.

How long is another matter, though. Have to check in with the anxious family member to figure out what their endurance is looking like these days. OK, not too much, so plan for them to arrive just in time for lunch and leave after dessert. Can do.

With the ‘when’ firmly in mind, now to plan the food. What to eat?

Back to the phone/email/texts.

Must check in with the two diabetics and the two with GI issues. No red meat, no tomato sauce this week. Fruit plate along with the baked goods. Check.

Oh wait, must have caffeine-free iced tea for the nursing mom and the sleepless relatives, too.

Food is set…no its not. What to bake? Ask son what he wants and I get his usual “White cake because everyone likes it” answer. Sigh. That’s fine for a holiday like Easter or Thanksgiving, but not for his special day. He’s just too nice sometimes. Mom overrules. His favorite Lemon Brownies it is. He smiles and is happy.

One thing done right and we’re in the home stretch.

Need to write myself a note to remember to turn down the AC for the ones who think my house is too-darn-hot (Like anything in East Texas isn’t right now…). And move the cars so the mobility impaired can park in the driveway.

Have I forgotten anything?

I swear, I’m about to lose my mind. Why can’t they just be easy? Sometimes I wonder if all this accommodating isn’t more trouble than it’s worth.

Then the phone call comes.

An out of town family member suddenly, unexpectedly lost their battle with cancer.

There would be one less at the next family reunion. One less to help us celebrate the next wedding. One less Facebook profile filled with photos and stories to share even though distance separates us.

One less preference to worry about accommodating at events.

One less.

And somehow all the hassle to make it easier for one more to attend looks a little more worthwhile.

Because someday there’s going to be one less.

Until then, I don’t want anyone to stay away because they weren’t feeling welcome or special.

So I double check my list and add someone’s favorite corn salad to the menus and get to baking those lemon brownies.


Lemon Brownies lemon brownies for a family celebration

  • 1 (18 ounce) boxes lemon cake mix
  • 1 (3 ounce) packages lemon gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Directions:  Grease and flour a 13″ X 9″ pan.Preheat oven to 325°F Beat together the dry cake mix, dry Jello powder, oil, and eggs. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 325F for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. (They take a little longer in a glass pan.) Remove from oven and punch holes all over the cake with a toothpick. Combine icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spoon over cake. Cool and cut into squares.


  1. My extended family has had one less until now there is only one. You are wise to make each moment together matter.

  2. Quick question…

    What is “icing sugar”? I’ve never heard this term before in Southern California. Is it anything like powdered sugar?


    And our youngest will be 17 in December, and our eldest is 24. Sounds like our kids are about the same ages. 🙂

    Susanne, who adores all sweet, lemony things 😉

    • Sheila L. Majczan on August 26, 2016 at 10:37 am
    • Reply

    One less…I am teary eyed for you and yours.

    Lemon is a favorite of mine: my birthday cake was white cake with my mother’s lemon butter icing.

    East Texas. We lived in Killeen (central TX) while my husband was stationed at Ft. Hood back in 1969 to 1971. Visited many parts of TX while there.

    We have had about 3 weeks with temps in the high 90s but here with the humidity it feels so much worse than Texas dry heat. There you had to be careful of sun stroke b/c you didn’t feel the heat as much.

    Thanks for sharing.

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